U.S. Disabled Alpine Ski Team athlete Tyler Walker piloted his 40-pound mono-ski to X Games gold Saturday as mono-skier X made its debut at the 11th X Games.
ASPEN, Colorado — U.S. Disabled Alpine Ski Team athlete Tyler Walker piloted his 40-pound mono-ski to X Games gold Saturday as mono-skier X made its debut at the 11th X Games.
A 2006 Paralympian and disabled World Cup giant slalom champion, Walker suffers from a birth defect, lumbar sacral aegensis, and was born with only four vertebrae. At age 4, doctors amputated both legs at the knee because he had no control over his legs. He found skiing through adaptive programs at Waterville Valley and Loon Mountain, which brought him to the New England Disabled Ski Team and eventually the U.S. national team.
“Tyler was flying, what an exciting day for him,” said coach Ben Roberts. “He’s such a talented skier and was really comfortable on his ski today. He stayed super relaxed in the air without any movement at all and put on quite a show. They had the live feed piped into the athlete lounge and I heard all the regular X Games athletes were just hooked.”
With the exception of a few features, the mixed field of standup and sit-ski athletes and both men and women used the same course as able-bodied skiers and snowboarders. Because mono-skiers cannot generate speed by skating, Roberts explained that the course was rerouted around a couple of jumps for safety, but was essentially the same course.
“A lot of people don’t realize that our sport is truly an athletic endeavor,” Roberts said. “These skiers have to be on it. They work out and train, just like any world-class athlete, and the more people that see this the better. The X Games is amazing exposure for our sport.”
Roberts also was impressed with the field of skiers assembled for the inaugural event, especially retired U.S. Ski Team athlete Sarah Will, a 12-time Paralympic gold medalist, who finished fourth as the only women in the field of 15.
Also competing were U.S. team members and 2006 Paralympians Carl Burnett, Kevin Bramble, Chris Devlin-Young, Nick Catanzarite and Gerald Hayden.